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Cornerstone’s ACT scores blow away other schools

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Juniors surpass 3 of 4 college readiness scores

By Todd Martin

Cornerstone Christian Academy released its ACT scores Monday, and the school raced past the state averages for juniors in the 2010-2011 school year.

Cornerstone's composite score was a 25, more than 6 points higher than the state and Shelby County Public School's averages, and four points higher than the national average.

Cornerstone's scores across the board were much higher than state and county averages, and higher than the benchmarks set for admission to the state-supported postsecondary education institutions in Kentucky.

The private school’s averages of 28 in English, 21.8 in math, 27.2 in reading and 22.6 in science exceed three of the four benchmarks for college readiness set by the ACT, falling 1.4 points shy in science.

The instate benchmarks are 18 for English, 19 for math and 20 for reading with no benchmark set for science. The ACT college readiness benchmarks are 18 for English, 22 for math, 21 for reading and 24 for science.

Students who reach the ACT benchmarks, the company says, are projected to have a 75 percent chance at scoring a C or higher in a college course.

The major difference between Cornerstone, SCPS and the state is the number of students who took the test. The state requires all public school juniors to take the ACT in the fall, but at Cornerstone it is not mandatory.

There were 441 students in SCPS and 44,053 public school students statewide who took the test last year.

At Cornerstone, six out of nine juniors took the test.

However, Guidance Counselor Rebecca Scheidt said students are encouraged to take the test.

"It is not mandatory, but we highly encourage our students to take it, and we offer incentives," she said. "And many of students do start taking the test as freshmen."

With 66.7 percent of the junior class taking the test, Scheidt said the school is very happy with their students' results.

"It was pretty high, and I think they went up a little this year as a group," she said.

The reasons, she noted, are unique to Cornerstone.

"There is a combination of things, I think, that we offer that really help our students," she said.

"Our curriculum is top-notch. We have great textbooks that are very college preparatory, and it's a very traditional and demanding curriculum.

"Our teachers have a college preparatory view, and many of them offer tutoring after school to give students that extra time to learn the work.

"And our small class sizes and high parent involvement make all the difference."

For the past several years the school has offered an ACT prep course that students could take as an elective during the school day. Although they "took the year off" from the course this year, Scheidt said most of the older students have already taken it.

The course is set in 6-week intervals and taught by corresponding English, math and science teachers.

For students that fail to meet the benchmarks, Scheidt said the school does offer intervention.

"The ACT is really good about information and showing us what our students need to do to reach the next level," she said. "And when it comes down to it, doing well on the ACT is about taking challenging courses, and we give our students the resources needed to help them get to that level."